Russian Arctic Convoy Museum
I have been collecting Smilers sheets and covers pretty much from the
start and through this website and my catalogue I have made come into
contact with many interesting and helpful people who have helped me
expand my knowledge of these issues, which in turn has allowed me to share
this knowledge on these pages.
About a month ago I received an e-mail from John Embrey querying
whether I had come across the following Smilers Cover/stamp which had
apparently been issued some six years earlier! I confess I had not.
Through John I was able to track down the producer of the cover who
kindly provided the following relating to this cover.
".... I did a small batch of Smilers using the RACM logo at the
tail end of 2012 which were used in conjunction with the Merchant Navy
issue in September 2013 and on a few covers related to the Museum's Convoy
week in the May of that year. If I recall correctly, I think I did four or
five of the sheets of 20 "Smilers from Scotland" (i.e. around
100 stamps), the majority of which went up to the RACM. I used 16 of the
stamps on various covers for myself / the Museum, and I have a partial
sheet of 4 stamps left.
As for available covers, I have one left from 6 May 2013 (first day of
the convoy week) using the interchangeable date hand-stamp I did for the
museum, and one using the Buckingham Covers hand-stamp for the Merchant
navy issue on 19 September."
Sadly no full sheets of these stamps/labels remain but I have managed
to obtain a partial sheet from the original source from which I have
recreated an image of what this sheet would have looked like. (14/06)
Queensman Lodge VC Recipients - Smilers Sheet and Cover
John Chapman Associates (formerly part of the Bletchley Park Post
Office) has produced a limited edition themed smilers sheet and souvenir
cover on behalf of the the Queensman Lodge to mark the initiation of
Johnson Beharry. V.C. PWRR and Daniel Keighran, V.C., RAR into the
Queensman Lodge 2694 on the 18th May 2018 held at Grand Temple at
Freemason's Hall, London and the Grand Connaught Rooms.
The Smilers sheet and cover are currently available from
John Chapman with all profits from the sale of the sheet and cover going directly
to the Queensman Lodge Charity foundation.
I understand from John that the sheet and cover are one of
a number planned over the next 6-12 months featuring differing designs and
Royal Mail stamps around a similar theme. John has kindly provided
some early designs of what the covers will look like which I thought might
be of interest to our readers.
If you would like to purchase any of these covers or
Smiler sheet please e-mail John Chapman
by clicking the link provided. (14/06)
50th Anniversary of Dad's Army Generic Sheet
Dad's Army is a BBC television sitcom about the antics of a British
Home Guard unit during the Second World War in the fictional seaside town
of Walmington-on-Sea. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and
broadcast on the BBC from 1968 to 1977. The sitcom ran for nine series and
80 episodes in total, and there was also a radio version based on the
television scripts as well as a feature film. On 26th June 2018 Royal Mail
will be marking the 50th anniversary of this enduring and hugely popular
sitcom with an issue of special stamps, including a generic stamp sheet, presentation
pack and retail stamp booklet.
In addition to containing five Corporal Jones and five Captain
Mainwaring 1st Class Stamps, the Generic Sheet includes labels bearing
stills of some of the most iconic scenes from the Dad’s Army series
including those from the classic episodes ‘The Deadly Attachment’ (‘Don’t
tell him, Pike’), ‘Never Too Old’, ‘Sgt Wilson’s Little Secret’
and ‘The Man and the Hour’. Details of the programmes from which the
scenes are derived are cited on the labels and are set out below (top left
to bottom right). The generic sheet is printed in litho in self-adhesive
format unlike the stamp set, which is water activated gum.
The two self-adhesive stamps will also be available in retail booklets
of two special stamps and 4 x 1st class Machins but unlike the generic
sheet, the retail booklet will be printed in gravure, meaning that the
generic sheet will be the only source of litho printed self-adhesive
Dad’s Army is one of a handful of TV comedies that fully deserves its
classic status. The show focuses on a Home Guard platoon commanded by
pompous bank manager Captain Mainwaring and assisted by his mild-mannered
chief clerk, Sergeant Wilson. This motley band of men provide Walmington-on-Sea’s
last line of defence against the seemingly imminent Nazi invasion. Drawn
from their own wartime memories, writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft never
denigrated the patriotism or bravery of the characters but managed to make
us laugh at the results of their often haphazard antics. The series was
based partly on Perry’s experiences in the Local Defence Volunteers at
the age of 17 during the Second World War. His mother didn’t like him
being out at night, which inspired the character of Pike. In its 1970s
heyday the show attracted more than 18 million viewers, becoming one of
the most watched television programmes. (26/05)
Gibraltar Post - Royal Wedding Commemorative Sheet
They say great mind think alike, well it looks like Gibraltar and
Jersey have been exchanging ideas - no sooner had we discovered the new commemorative
sheet planned by Jersey Post, see article below, then we discovered this
sheet in a circular e-mail that almost went unnoticed!
The Gibraltar Post Limited Edition commemorative sheet (500)
commemorates the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle but goes one
better than Jersey in using images from the couples happy day.
Both sheets were produced using their respective personalised stamp
sheet process taking a basic sheet of printed stamps and adding the label
and background images, much the same process that I advocated Royal Mail
adopt last year. I think this confirms that Royal Mail are not great at
talking to, or learning from others!
We will of course be stocking this sheet and an initial e-mail to me in the
first instance will be suffice to secure this delightful sheet, priced at
Jersey Post - Royal Wedding Commemorative Sheet and
Jersey Post will issue a limited edition Commemorative Stamp Sheet and
Cover to mark the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Maghan Markle on 19
May 2018. I have these commemorative sheets on order and can supply
the commemorative sheet for £25.00 including post & packing. As
usual, an e-mail to me in the
first instance will be suffice to secure one of these colourful and well
designed sheets. (18/05)
Benham's Business sheet on the way!
I have just received a message from Benham that their long awaited
Platinum Royal Wedding business sheet, due out last December, has finally
materialised and should be with us shortly.
Also confirmed is the Centenary of the RAF business
sheet which will follow "at a later date" i.e. no forward issue
date set as of today.
Also appearing on their website in recent weeks are two
new business sheets - probably their last as the business customised stamp
sheet product has now been withdrawn by Royal Mail. The two new
sheets are The Royal Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms
Meghan Markle and a WW1 Centenary sheet - War on Land.
The Royal Wedding sheet celebrates the Royal
Wedding of HRH Prince Henry of Wales and Ms Meghan Markle in St George's
Chapel, Windsor on 19 May 2018.
The sheet comprises ten 2010 Business and Consumer Smilers Crown Seal
1st class NVI definitives with labels depicting the happy couple together
with images of St George's Chapel Windsor and Windsor Castle itself.
Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle are depicted in the sheet margins
against the background of The Moat Garden, Windsor Castle. Issued in a
numbered limited edition of 2018 sheets.
The War on Land sheet is an "...impressive WWI customised sheet
(which) focuses on War on
Featuring on the sheet are two significant personnel during the War;
Marshal Ferdinand Foch, a French General who served as Supreme Allied
Commander, and Field Marshal Douglas Haig, a senior Officer of the British
Army who commanded British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front from
1915. The ten definitives are joined by individual labels that mark
signifcant locations and battles during WWI, including Somme and
Passchendaele. Issued in a numbered limited edition of just 500, this
sheet will grace the collection of those for whom Britain's military
history is of interest." (16/05)
Re-printed Universal Mail Strips with 2018 date
Universal Mail are licensed to produce personalised stamp strips
intended to be used on international postcards up to 10g. They are
available from a variety of tourist attractions up and down the country.
Sixteen re-printed strips with new date codes (01/18) have recently come
to light and will be shortly be included in an update to my collectors
guide featuring these personalised stamp strips. The current edition can
be downloaded by clicking on this link.
The re-printed strips are as follows:
- UK0001 – London Day
- UK0002 –
- UK0003 – London Icons
- UK0020 - Scotland
UK0023 – Northern Ireland
- UK0040 - Oxford
- UK0041 - Sussex
- UK0046 - Bath
- UK0051 - Cambridge
- UK0053 – North West England
- UK0057 – Animals of
- UK0058 – Scottish
- UK0061 - Glasgow
- UK0064 – North Wales
- UK0119 - Edinburgh
- UK0152 - Windsor
As usual I have a few complete sets of the above 16 strips available
for immediate dispatch priced at £130 incl. p+p. Individually they are
priced at £8 + £2 p+p (UK) and £8 + £3 p+p (Overseas). Please send me
an e-mail in the first instance
if you would like to reserve a set. (15/05).
150th Anniversary of the TUC
Royal Mail have announced a new Commemorative Sheet due out on 1st June
2018 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Trades Union Congress.
The first TUC meeting was held in 1868 when the Manchester and Salford
Trades Council convened the founding meeting in the Manchester Mechanics'
Institute. The fact that the TUC was formed by Northern Trades Councils
was not coincidental. One of the issues which prompted this initiative was
the perception that the London Trades Council which was formed in 1860 was
taking a dominant a role in speaking for the Trade Union Movement as a
In 1897 the Congress, took the decision to form a more centralised
trade union structure that would enable a more militant approach to be
taken to fighting the employer and even achieving the socialist
transformation of society. The result was the General Federation of Trade
Unions which was formed in 1899. For some years it was unclear which body
(the GFTU or the TUC) would emerge as the national trade union centre for
the UK and for a while both were recognised as such by different fraternal
organisations in other countries. However, it was soon agreed amongst the
major unions that the TUC should take the leading role and that this would
be the central body of the organised Labour Movement in the UK.
The sheet will be supplied in an informative packaging and protective
sleeve and is priced at £15.95 from Royal Mail. (01/05)
New Themed Smilers
News of two new themed Smilers sheets from various sources has
reached us, all issued in the past few weeks.
The first is the latest offering from the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway
commemorating the 60th anniversary of the last day of the old company
which occured on the 5th April 1958. That is 60 years to the day that the
new FR Co reached Tan-y-Bwlch and opened a train service, after being
closed for 10 years there were trees as large as a mans arm in the track!
Please contact Robert Smallman
if interested in either the Smilers sheet or cover.
A limited edition souvenir cover was also produced using an unrelated
postmark commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the Liverpool Overhead
Railway. The organisers produced twenty full Smilers sheets, fourteen of
which were available for sale as full sheets of twenty stamps/labels, one
sheet went into archives and the remaining five sheets were or will be
used on souvenir covers over the forthcoming year.
Finally, The Scottish Philatelic Society have recently concluded their
Scottish Congress meet at The Dewer's Centre, Perth and a number of
souvenirs were available including a themed Smilers sheet commemorating
the 125th anniversary of Scottish Philately, which according to their
website now appears to be sold out.
I am not aware of any souvenir covers produced although some may have
been produced by private sources so keep an eye open on eBay should these
emerge. Post Note: A cover was produced by David Embray (26/04)
Change Detection appears to have morphed into Visualping, so if you had requested
notifications of changes to this page using Change Detection they may have ceased!
On first inspection Visualping does not appear to be as intuitive as Change
Detection but it's not difficult to sign up for tracking this website. To track changes to this web page
visit Visualping and follow the
on-screen instructions. You can track changes to this web page once
a day for free or less often if you prefer. Further instructions are provided
at the top right of this page. (26/04)
Business Customised Sheets - A Brief History!
Australia started it all nearly 20 years ago when they produced the
world's first personalised stamp sheet to coincide with Australia '99
World Stamp Exhibition held in Melbourne, Australia between 19-24 March
1999. They adopted the brand name P-Stamps for "personalised
stamps" which continue to be popular with the Australian public,
judging by the frequency that Australia Post actively re-fresh their
Royal Mail sought to do something similar for the Stamp
Show held at Earls Court, London between 11-22 May 2000. However, since
Australia Post had copyrighted the brand name "personalised
stamps" they had to find something different to call their
personalised stamp sheets so they adapted the Smilers brand after the
Smiler greeting stamps featured on the sheet and as a consequence, the
brand name "Smilers" was borne out of necessity rather than
Australia Post were also the first to recognise the
potential of the product as marketing tool to promote commercial
activities and in conjunction with the event organisers issued what is
believed to the first Souvenir Event Sheet (SES sheet) in January 2000 to
promote the Tamworth Music Festival. As well as selling sheets with a
generic image of an Australia Post employee (Angela Thom) personalised
versions were also available at the event.
Nearly two years later, in December 2001, Royal Mail began
experimenting with their so-called "Business Customised Sheets"
a brand used by Royal Mail to differentiate them from the generic and
personalised Smilers sheets but in all respects similar but produced
to order by a customer to promote a commercial event, service or product.
The early sheets were also designed and produced by Royal Mail to promote
their product and the best known of these was the pair of Eagle Coaches
In 2002 a series of "Footie" sheets were
produced by Benham Covers, which generated further interest in the product
here in the UK but were in fact a direct copy of Australia Post's
promotion of AFL and NRL teams in Australia from 2000.
Since the first Royal Mail Business Customised sheet was
issued in late 2001 there has been over 500 different stamp sheets
produced by Royal Mail, the bulk of which were produced by the philatelic
and collector market with very few produced in any great numbers. The one
that perhaps stands out was a sheet issued in 2006 to promote the Fiat
Grande Punto, European Car of the Year, 6000 sheets were produced and
available as a stock item from Fiat dealers countrywide.
Sadly there will be no more as Royal Mail have ceased
production of this product line effective 31st March 2018. (24/04)
Themed Smiler Sheet from the BFPS
The British Philatelic Society (BFPS) has issued a new Smiler sheet to
mark the 100th Anniversary of the RAF but curiously decided not to issue
an accompanying souvenir cover. The move is somewhat strange in that
the Society predominately exists in the physical world as a collectible
cover service based around a military theme and for some covers the people
behind this not-for-profit venture produce Themed Smilers sheets and
stamps to accompany these covers and special hand-stamp. In this
case I believe this is the first occasion in which a Smiler Sheet has been
produced without the accompanying cover and special hand-stamp.
Available from 1st April 2018, I have a small quantity in stock and
can supply these sheets for £47.50.00 to UK mainland incl. of p+p. Please
e-mail me in t he first
Spotted last month on eBay was a Themed Smilers sheet marketed by
Rushstamps featuring the Grant Clan on the occasion of their
Diamond Jubilee - 60 years in the business, an amazing achievement in this
day and age. (11/04)